Archive: Education Setting

Finding the Math in the Mountains: Place-based Learning in the Mountains of Southwest Virginia

By Heather Askea

Abstract: The purpose of this article is to provide key aspects and learning outcomes associated with the Math of the Mountains Project. Math of the Mountains was a year long grant project that engaged 60 K12 mathematics teachers in the key concepts and applications of place-based learning and mathematics instruction. Through online coursework and peer support, a four-day immersive field experience, and teacher led field experiences, participants applied elements of PBL to create lesson activities that support real-world learning and problem solving scenarios.

Continue Reading

School gardening as a means to influence pupils’ nutritional attitudes and behavior: A study at general and vocational high schools in Vienna

By Thilo Rademacher, Friedrich Leisch, Valentin Fiala and Bernhard Freyer

Abstract: The impact of school gardening on nutritional attitudes and behavior regarding purchase and consumption of food is explored with pupils who participated in school gardens. The researchers of the recent study conceptualized a framework of potential factors influencing nutritional behavior based on empirical data with pupils from general and vocational high schools in Vienna. Three hundred and sixteen pupils, aged between 16 to 21, were interviewed in a cross-sectional study. The pupils who participated in school gardening are significantly better informed about sustainability than the pupils who did not. There is a significant difference between pupils who took part in school gardening and those who did not, regarding their self-assessment towards their connection to nature and sustainability. The total consumption of vegetables has increased within the families of participating pupils by 17%. School gardening seems to promote pupils’ reflection on their own diet as well as foster a favorable attitude towards a healthy and sustainable diet. We conclude that the implementation of school gardening has a significant positive impact on pupils’ attitude and behavior towards sustainable diets.

Continue Reading

Sulitest®: A Mixed-Method, Pilot Study of Assessment Impacts on Undergraduate Sustainability-related Learning and Motivation

By Alicia M. Mason

Abstract: A United Nations international collaboration between the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) resulted in the creation of Sulitest® (aka Sustainability Literacy Test) an open, online training and assessment tool freely available to higher education institutions globally. This study analyzes the effectiveness of the newly developed Sulitest® to not only measure sustainability literacy of higher education student populations, but also act as a catalyst for boosting affective learning outcomes by: (a) generating interest in sustainability-related issues, (b) improving sustainability-related understandings, and (c) enhancing students’ interests in the subject matter. In order to do so we present a two-phase, exploratory mixed-method pilot study. Preliminary results from this pilot study reveal Sulitest is a useful tool for not only assessing sustainability literacy but also spurring student interests and motivations in sustainability-related subject matters. Findings, discussion and limitations are provided.

Continue Reading

Taking Sustainability Personally: The Impact of Teaching Sustainability Agency on Learning

By Lisa Papania

Abstract: Students are transformed when they realize that their theory-based actions have real and meaningful impact. Student learning outcomes are enhanced when they realize this impact. This is important, because the topic of sustainability involves a huge amount of grim data about the state of the planet and our impending demise; and an urgent call for action to make positive impact. To enable my MBA students to take action, I designed an experiential, action-research and transformational pedagogical approach; and a mixed-methods study to assess if/ how students engaged with, and learned or cared about sustainability when it was delivered at the level of personal impact and personal action. I found that making sustainability personal did not cause alienation, but did significantly contribute to learning and caring in all students in the course. However, students’ comfort with uncertainty moderated their perceptions of learning, which provides insight for how to improve the course in the future.

Continue Reading

Developing, Piloting, and Factor Analysis of a Brief Survey Tool for Evaluating Food and Composting Behaviors: The Short Composting Survey

By Jennie Norton, Becky Pearson, David Gee and Nicole Stendell-Hollis

Abstract: Household composting is a practical sustainable behavior which should be further investigated. The Short Composting Survey was developed for use during the Compost Project pilot study to measure the knowledge, values, barriers, and social norms surrounding composting (n=25). The purpose of this research was to describe the testing and refining of the survey tool for the pilot study. Statistical analyses included calculating the Index of Item-Objective Congruence (IIOC) values and conducting a confirmatory factor analysis following administration of the survey. Nine respondents assisted with survey tool development by completing the IIOC, and values ranged from 0.29 to 0.66 which indicated that all of the survey questions matched more than one construct. The factor analysis resulted in a three-factor solution with a cumulative loading of 71.2%, meaning that these identified factors contributed 71.2% of the variance in responses. Factor 1 (“Values”) proved to be the strongest factor, explaining 36.6% of the variance, whereas Factor 2 (“Social Norms”) explained 20.04%, and Factor 3 (“Barriers”) had 14.6%. This survey may be useful for future food composting and sustainability-related research efforts.

Continue Reading

The Development of Citizen Educators at a Remote Graduate Science Education Program

By Cliff Harbour

Abstract: This paper describes and explains findings from an exploratory, interpretative qualitative case study that examined how a residential graduate program in science education, based in a wilderness area, supported the development of citizen educators. Data collection over a three-year period included 16 in-depth interviews with administrators, faculty, and graduate students; observations of class activities and campus community meetings; and document analysis of curriculum materials. Analysis of the data revealed how the culture of the campus community encouraged students to become citizen educators.

Continue Reading

A Pedagogical Framework for the Design and Utilization of Place-Based Experiential Learning Curriculum on a Campus Farm

By Julia L. Angstmann, Amber J. Rollings, Grant A. Fore and Brandon H. Sorge

Abstract: Campus agriculture projects are increasingly being recognized as spaces impactful to student engagement and learning through curricular and co-curricular programming; however, most campus farm activities are limited to agriculture or sustainability programs and/or co-curricular student clubs. Thus, campus farms are largely underutilized in the undergraduate curriculum, marking a need to explore the efficacy and impact of engaging a diverse array of disciplinary courses in the rich social, environmental, and civic context of local sustainable agriculture. The Farm Hub program presented here incentivizes instructors to refocus a portion of existing course content around the topic of local, sustainable agriculture, and reduces barriers to using a campus farm as a situated learning context for curricula. A pedagogical framework founded in place-based experiential learning (PBEL) theory was developed to guide instructors in the development and implementation of 4–6-week inquiry-based PBEL modules embedded in existing courses. The framework was converted into a research protocol to quantify program implementation fidelity and PBEL best practice adherence for the proposed lesson plans (intended) and their implementation (applied). The framework enables the development of a cohesive cross-curricular program so that the impact of implementation fidelity and best practice adherence to student learning outcomes in scientific literacy, place attachment and meaning, and civic mindedness can be assessed and the results utilized to develop a formal farm-situated PBEL pedagogical taxonomy. This framework can be applied to PBEL curriculum in natural spaces beyond campus farms.

Continue Reading

Interacting Pedagogies: A Review and Framework for Sustainability Education

By Jason Papenfuss, Eileen Merritt, David Manuel-Navarrete, Scott Cloutier and Bonnie Eckard

Abstract: Although the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005–2014) was a period of rapid pedagogical revitalization and innovation, much sustainability education today is still delivered using transmissive and instrumental pedagogies common across higher education. Now that the field has integrated many of the insights from the decade, students and facilitators should continue innovating along themes consistent with the goals of sustainability: transformation and emancipation. Yet, more clarity is needed about pedagogical approaches that will transform and emancipate students, allowing them to become innovators that change existing structures and systems. This paper presents a framework combining four interacting (i.e., complementary) pedagogies (transmissive, transformative, instrumental, and emancipatory) in sustainability education, helping to reify pedagogical concepts, rebel against outdated curricula, and orient facilitators/learners on their journey toward transformative and emancipatory learning. The authors begin by reviewing the evolution of sustainability education and transformative learning theory prior to introducing the framework. The paper concludes with a vision of sustainability education that incorporates contemplative pedagogies as essential methods in a field in need of cultivating hope, resilience, and emergence.

Continue Reading

Media Strategies Impacting Millennials’ Sustainable Apparel Purchase Intention

By Lauren (Reiter) Copeland

Abstract: With apparel and textile production finding itself a leader in social and environmental responsibility issues, the call to action to influence purchase intention for sustainable and responsible apparel is necessary to both the environment and humankind. Literature supports the connection between consumer knowledge of social issues within the apparel and textile industry and purchase behavior. Cowan and Kinley (2014) identify attitudes as the strongest predictor for purchasing environmentally sustainable apparel. This study looks at the interjection of a type of popular and accepted medium, film, as a possible catalyst to knowledge and attitude change in millennial consumers regarding responsible apparel. This is an exploratory quantitative research study to explore possible future directions of how to impact sustainable purchase intentions of millennials in a consumer driven society. A total of 128 participants from a large Midwest university took part in the study during spring and fall 2016. This study found that millennial consumers had significant change in their purchasing behavior regarding responsible apparel. They also considered themselves more knowledgeable regarding the topic. However, their change in attitudes was not towards being more concerned with what was happening in the industry nor their willingness to sacrifice price and style for responsible apparel.

Continue Reading

“Writing makes it easier to relate to the Environment” – The Valuable Role of the Composition Classroom in our Threatened Environment

By Yasmin Rioux

Abstract: The author examines the role and influence of a place-based Environmental Literature and Writing class on her undergraduate students’ perception of their personal position within their immediate and extended environments. Further, the author aims at gaining a better understanding of what course elements the students found particularly valuable and effective in the realization of their agency within our environmental context, and what role writing played in the students’ reflections and examinations of the complex relationships between self, nature, and matters pertaining to sustainability and the future of our natural habitats. By assessing student writing, collecting questionnaires, and conducting open-question interviews, the author explores her students’ impressions and experiences of navigating global and local environmental issues through a Humanities-based course.

Continue Reading

Creative Social Stewardship, Artistic Engagement, and the Environment

By Cara Hagan and Theresa Redmond

Abstract: This article describes an innovative, grant-funded symposium for creative social stewardship that sought to blend the triad of art, education, and the natural environment through a focus on socio-cultural sustainability and community engagement. The purpose of this article is to share foundational information related to the origins of the symposium, describe the tenants of community arts initiatives, feature a session snapshot, and discuss the value of creative social stewardship as a part of daily practice. We conclude by making recommendations for future endeavors in cultivating creative social stewardship conferences or initiatives, ultimately promoting the idea that collaborative, community-based and arts-focused events might inspire reflection on connection, nature, and creativity in ways that nurture sustainability.

Continue Reading

Using Sustainability as a Framework for Marketing Curricula and Pedagogy

By Shikha Upadhyaya, Mine Üçok Hughes and H. Rika Houston

Abstract: As noted by a growing number of marketing scholars, the importance of educating marketing students on sustainability should be an important objective for marketing educators and business schools alike. The focus of sustainability-based marketing education is on the greater good of the environment and society, while adjusting internal and related external processes to sustainability principles. In this conceptual paper, we adopt a broadened definition of sustainability distinct from the narrow understanding of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) adopted by the business world in general and make recommendations for using this broadened definition to reframe marketing curricula and pedagogy. We give specific examples of assignments and pedagogical approaches for four core marketing courses as well as four marketing electives. By doing so, we hope to foster a new marketing mindset and a new generation of marketing practitioners who embrace, internalize, and practice sustainability holistically.

Continue Reading

The Community Food Forest Handbook: A Review

By Clare Hintz

“The Community Food Forest Handbook: How to Plan, Organize, and Nurture Edible Gathering Places” by Catherine Bukowski and John Munsell is a rare edition to the literatures of permaculture and agroecology: it foregrounds sociocultural dimensions in the context of ecological design. 

Continue Reading

Development of an Energy Literacy Measure for Middle School Students

By R. Justin Hougham, Chad Gotch, Jennifer A. Schon, Karla Eitel and Danica Hendrickson

Abstract: Energy literacy, defined by the DOE, “is an understanding of nature and role of energy in the universe and in our lives” and, “…is also the ability to apply this understanding to answer questions and solve problems” (U.S. Department of Energy, 2013). Energy literacy is continuously evolving with the development of new feedstocks, technologies, and processes – all of which contribute to the changing landscape of energy production and use. In order for energy education to evolve with the energy field, better tools are needed to assess educational programs. The assessment discussed here is a step towards developing such an assessment for bioenergy.

Continue Reading

An Urban Nature Center: Take 2. My Journey to Sustainability Education in Rebuilding a Nature Center

By Brenda Walkenhorst

An Urban Nature Center: Take 2. My Journey to Sustainability Education in Rebuilding a Nature Center

Continue Reading

A Research Coordination Network’s Impact on Sustainability Open Education

By Hong Xu

Abstract: The research coordination network (RCN) – Climate, Energy, Environment and Engagement in Semiarid Regions (CE3SAR) is a NSF funded five-year project (2012 to 2016, extend to 2017). One goal of the RCN CE3SAR project is to enhance sustainability education in South Texas. To achieve this goal, the RCN CE3SAR steering committee adopted two strategies: creating learning objects and supporting open education. This article reports the process and methods of creating and publishing RCN CE3SAR sustainability learning objects as open education resources.

Continue Reading

Environmental Sustainability Education at Three Elementary Schools

By Lauren Madden and Rachel DiVanno

Though often considered an area of importance and emphasis, the enactment of Environmental Sustainability Education can vary considerably across schools and settings. This study used a narrative approach to tell the story of Environmental Sustainability Education at three schools within a 10-mile radius of our institution: a public charter school, a public school with a magnet STEM program, and a private Friends school. Our findings are discussed using the NAAEE’s Essential Underpinnings of Environmental Education, and shed light on possible future direction for pre- and in-service teacher education in Environmental Sustainability Education.

Continue Reading

Teaching Sustainability: Recommendations for Best Pedagogical Practices

By Heather Burns, Sybil S. Kelley and Heather Spalding

Although sustainability has become an important focus in higher education, there is a need for understanding how sustainability competencies can be cultivated in college and university courses and programs. This article argues that learners who are to become capable of affecting holistic sustainable change, transforming values and culture, healing the earth and human communities, and designing creative solutions, must have the opportunity to engage in learning processes that reflect these learning outcomes. We outline key elements of sustainability pedagogy and suggest best pedagogical practices for designing engaging and holistic sustainability learning.

Continue Reading

Socially Engaged Art and Agriculture: Experimenting with Extension

By Lucas Ihlein, Laura Fisher, Kim Williams and Simon Mattsson

Abstract: Solutions to environmentally damaging human practices require cooperation between many different communities. This article explores sustainability-focused education through the lens of a current work-in-progress, Sugar vs the Reef?, which involves collaboration between sugarcane farmers and artists in the arable catchment of the Great Barrier Reef in North Queensland. This is a socially engaged art project that is addressing the fraught relationship between the region’s agriculture and the fragile ecology of the Reef. We introduce some of the specific aspects of socially engaged art (SEA) which commend it as a cross-disciplinary method for bridging diverse individuals and organisations – in particular, the notion of a “holding environment” for complex socio-ecological situations. We consider how this approach might broaden the agricultural practice of “extension” which aims to transform farming through educational outreach. Ideas emerging from contemporary socially engaged art practice may contribute to a toolkit for researchers and practitioners within and beyond the academy who are searching for ways to overcome the limitations of current methodologies and movements for social change.

Continue Reading

How Matching Systems Thinking with Critical Pedagogy May Help Resist the Industrialization of Sustainability Education

By Andrew Bernier

Abstract: This theoretical and conceptual article explores the connection between systems design in education, specifically curriculum design, and critical pedagogy, the educational adaptation of critical theory. The author presents the well-established concept of how the industrial standardization of education stems from the imposing of linear structures onto curricular design, inherently suppressing students and communities to have greater control on their educational experience. While there have been great gains in sustainability education, it is self-defeating to the systems thinking nature of sustainability to have sustainability instruction follow traditional linear formats. The author discusses some essential concepts to systems thinking and systems design, and then explores many of the preeminent authors of critical pedagogy and their respective viewpoints. In the discussion, the author interweaves how a systems approach to curriculum design can help meet calls made by critical pedagogy theorists, possibly alleviating some of the oppressive curricular norms assumed by industrialized linear education.

Continue Reading

Indigenous Sustainabilities: Decolonization, Education, and Collaboration at the Ojibwe Winter Games

By B. Marcus Cederström, Tim Frandy and Colin Gioia Connors

Abstract: In this article, we examine the collaborative efforts of university-employed folklorists with Waaswaaganing Anishinaabe (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe) teachers and community leaders in what is currently known as northern Wisconsin. Focusing on the Ojibwe Winter Games—an annual weeklong event in February for middle school students that aims to revitalize traditional competitive games—we suggest that decolonizing sustainability education requires recognition that sustainability is pluralistic and culturally specific. Educators must facilitate a restorative systemic shift towards Indigenous sustainabilities through Indigenous-centered pedagogies and methods of knowledge production. In order to accomplish such a shift, our responsibility as academics and public folklorists must always be to the Indigenous communities with whom we work. We explore the role of non-Indigenous collaborators in Indigenous-led decolonization efforts, in developing educational systems that support and sustain Indigenous knowledge systems, and in the repatriation and rematriation of land, language, and culture.

Continue Reading

Gratitude as Ceremony: A Practical Guide to Decolonization

By Kahsto’sera’a Paulette Moore and Tehahenteh Frank Miller

Abstract: Throughout 2016 and 2017 more than 300 Indigenous nations from around the globe united on the plains of North Dakota, where Standing Rock affinity camps provided space for native prophecy and ceremony to play out in ways meaningful to our modern times. Standing Rock protection actions made clear to all what we’ve known for centuries: Indigenous peoples’ relationship to the natural world provides a powerful antidote to the prevailing madness that insists nature and people are expendable as long as money is being made. Within our own Rotinonhsyón:ni (Iroquois) nations the act of gratitude is at the heart of our key ceremony that connects us to our Earth as it dissipates this violent culture.

Continue Reading

The White Kid at the Native American Camp

By Ron Riekki

The White Kid at the Native American Camp

Continue Reading

Indigenizing Sustainabilities, Sustaining Indigeneities: Decolonization, Sustainability, and Education

By Tim Frandy

Abstract: Decolonization is a multifaceted and complex process, involving a wide range of concepts, including the restoration of Indigenous lands to Indigenous control, improved recognition of tribal sovereignty, strengthening of Indigenous worldviews and knowledge traditions, cultivating cultural responsiveness in education and health care, aligning research methods with Indigenous cultural priorities and values, and more.

This special issue of the Journal of Sustainability Education on the topic of Decolonization and Sustainability Education reflects many of these diverse projects. The issue is inclusive of Indigenous and allied voices, of academic and Indigenous discourses, of large-scale political actions and—what Jeff Corntassel calls—“everyday acts of resurgence.” The selections are arranged in ways that center Indigenous voices and the work on the ground that reinforces Indigenous sustainabilities and Indigenous-centered pedagogies.

Continue Reading

Our Ways: Culture as the Heart of the Indian Community School

By Carol Ann Amour, Anthony Brazouski, Jason Dropik, Jacob Jones and Mark Powless

Abstract: Since the 1990s research has been telling us that indigenous students do better in school when they are connected to their cultures. Our experience affirms studies concluding that students who have strong connections to their culture are more resilient and have a stronger sense of efficacy.

Continue Reading

An Experience in Environmental Education with University Students

By Raúl Calixto Flores

The educational experience described in this article was developed in the course “Social and Cultural Contexts of Teaching” for the Sociology of Education bachelor’s degree at the National Pedagogical University, Mexico. In this course, students are expected to develop favorable attitudes toward the environment. The student’s defined environmental problems made a diagnosis and elaborated a case study, to discuss concrete solutions in their community. The educational experience included several moments: framing, joint planning of individual and group activities, and development of the case study. The balance of the results of the course was favorable; the group learned to work cooperatively, mutual trust prevailed within the teams, group agreements were respected, the group goal was clearly defined, and a case study was delineated and developed.

Continue Reading

Una Experiencia En Educación Ambiental Con Estudiantes Universitarios

By Raúl Calixto Flores

La experiencia educativa que se describe en este artículo se desarrolló en el curso “Contextos sociales y culturales de la enseñanza” de la licenciatura de Sociología de la Educación en la Universidad Pedagógica Nacional, México. En este curso, se espera que los estudiantes desarrollen actitudes favorable hacia el medio ambiente; los estudiantes delimitaron problemas ambientales, hicieron un diagnóstico y elaboraron un estudio de caso, para discutir soluciones concretas. Desde el reconocimiento de la crisis ambiental y un problema ambiental específico, los estudiantes desarrollan un estudio de caso de un problema ambiental de su comunidad. La experiencia educativa comprende varios momentos: encuadre, planificación conjunta de actividades individuales, grupales y desarrollo del estudio de caso. El balance de los resultados del curso fue favorable; el grupo aprendió a trabajar de forma cooperativa, prevaleció la confianza mutua dentro de los equipos, se respetaron los acuerdos grupales, se definió claramente el objetivo del grupo y se delineó y desarrolló un estudio de caso.

Continue Reading

Learning Sustainable Cultural Safety in a Crowded, Warming World

By Alexander Lautensach and Sabina Lautensach

Among all the pressing needs for educational innovations that we face today, arguably the most imperative is the need to elicit learners’ active collaboration towards a ‘Great Transition’ into a secure and sustainable future for humanity. Among the numerous challenges that this endeavour entails, the anticipated arrival of unprecedented numbers of climate refugees will severely challenge the capacities of host institutions to maintain human security – connecting to a second pressing need, namely to promote and maintain cultural safety for newcomers and hosts. We focus on the question how compatible those two educational projects might be. To what extent could a Transition curriculum include and inform a curriculum for cultural safety, and how could a curriculum devoted to the principles of decolonisation internalise the need for living within our means? Neither one can be successful without the other. In general the two educational projects are reconcilable and inform and reinforce each other. However, some specific objectives of the Transition curriculum, mainly in the affective domain, require careful attention to cultural differences and reasoned compromise.

Continue Reading

Community-based learning: An Amazing tool used by college students to build tiny houses for the homeless

By Linda Pope

Abstract: Two tiny houses were constructed for the homeless at Dignity Village, Portland, Oregon, by Portland Community College students in two sustainability courses over 6 terms, using different approaches. By engaging the business community at large, various non-profits, parents of the students, and residents of the homeless village, the idea of community-based learning (CBL) was embraced by the instructor. CBL created an environment in which lack of experience and wide cultural variation were transformed into a cooperative community of inspiration.

Continue Reading

Ancient Wisdom, Modern Times: Decolonizing Education Paradigms in a Southwestern Tribal Community

By Carrie Calisay Cannon

Abstract: For millennia, education for the Hualapai Tribal people was learned through intergenerational lessons taught with the family. This provided younger generations with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in harsh desert environments. Over the past centuries tribal education has undergone numerous transitions. For the past twelve years the Hualapai Ethnobotany Youth Project has implemented an intergenerational learning program with the elders and youth of the tribal community to instill the centuries old knowledge that could only have been obtained through generations of experience. The program looks to new ways in modern times to teach the old ways in maintaining the continuity of knowledge that only the grandparents can remember.

Continue Reading

Stories of Place: Ojibwe Knowledge and Environmental Stewardship in the Northwoods

By Eleva Potter and Jerry Jondreau

Ojibwe education is used at Conserve School, an environmental semester school, to help high school students better understand diverse perspectives on stewardship and to explore the history, cultures and place of the Northwoods of Wisconsin. In the Environmental Stewardship class, students learn about indigenous history, culture and environmental perspectives from a local Ojibwe forester. The students use this perspective to help them appreciate their place at Conserve School and explore their own environmental ethics. Students also participate in Ojibwe seasonal celebrations to better comprehend how place and people are interrelated.

Continue Reading

Building an Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge Initiative at a Research University: Decolonization Notes from the Field

By Michelle Jacob and Hobie Blackhorn

Abstract: In this article, we discuss the importance of Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge as the foundation of sustainability education, and we describe the need for, and successful efforts to, begin building an Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge initiative at a research university. We share the guiding theoretical framework of our work, and the three goals of the initiative. We note the tensions involved in crafting a vision statement that a diverse group of faculty, staff, and students can all uphold in our collective work. We conclude with a description of our next planned steps for the initiative, and our hopes that this work will help decolonize sustainability education.

Continue Reading

Upstream

By Anna Metcalfe

Upstream is an art project that builds connections and circulates stories among people who are linked to teach other through a common watershed. Experiences and memories about water are collected and shared through conversations over tea. Over time, these stories will help build common ground in communities where water can be a divisive issue.

Continue Reading

A creative vision of sustainability: How informal educational avenues may impact change

By Rachel J. Eike, Sissy Osteen and Erin Irick

A sustainably-minded and technology-driven 2032 scenario was created to illustrate subtle attitudes and habits of characters based upon their collegiate informal learning and leadership experiences while earning an undergraduate degree. The creative scenario suggests that, based upon findings from a SLfSD (student leaders for sustainable development) study, leadership components may be identified and cultivated through informal educational avenues (i.e. student organization involvement) to help communicate and transition others to think and act in more environmentally-minded manners. The objective of the study was to explore the leadership components (leadership roles, personal capacities, and styles) of SLfSD. Quantitative, multivariate regression analysis of purposive sampling of student attendees of the 2013 AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) revealed interesting influencers of leadership styles and personal capacities, including the interaction of gender, age, ethnicity, and leadership role (aspiring vs. formal leaders). This research suggests that SLfSD possess dynamic capacities and preferences that can impact the necessity for and effectiveness of sustainability-focused programming.

Continue Reading

Determining Essential Components of a College-level Bioenergy Curriculum in the United States Using the Delphi Technique

By Kimi Grzyb, Brian Hartman and Katharine Field

In order to develop bioenergy into a viable industry capable of providing valuable energy and employment, there is an immediate need for a workforce prepared for the impending challenges of this emerging, interdisciplinary industry. To meet this need, it is necessary to identify and prioritize the topics that should be included in a college-level bioenergy curriculum. We implemented a three-round Delphi study to determine components of a college bioenergy curriculum in the US, by establishing consensus among a panel of American bioenergy experts. Round One consisted of a single open-ended question: Keeping in mind the future of a commercial bioenergy industry, what content knowledge should a student have upon completion of a college-level bioenergy curriculum? Responses were qualitatively coded into themes, and experts were asked to rate the importance of each theme using a five-point Likert-type scale during subsequent rounds. The final round resulted in 13 themes: Energy Basics, Types of Bioenergy, Environmental Impacts (including Life Cycle Analysis), Current Technologies, Societal Issues, Logistics, Policy, Biomass Composition, Non-Bioenergy-Specific Fundamentals, Biomass Production, Conversions, Bioenergy Market, and Business-Related Knowledge. Results will be used to bolster the existing bioenergy education initiative at Oregon State University, and can provide guidance to other institutions in the US and abroad interested in developing similar bioenergy education programs.

Continue Reading

Children of Change: An Experiment in Producing Visual Climate Messaging for Parents and Caregivers

By Erica Ramsey Pulley

For my culminating master’s project, I attempted to apply carefully selected theories and research to guide the production of a five-minute video trailer for a potential future documentary titled Children of Change. The video project endeavors to illustrate the myriad ways families and children in the United States are impacted by climate change, including proximity to the processes that contribute to climate change such as fossil fuel extraction, transport, and consumption; how the climate issue is inextricably tied to and will continue to exacerbate existing systems of oppression at home and around the world; and how our children’s health and future well-being are most at risk. Children of Change also documents how parents, youth, and families are engaged in the fight for their lives.
Video can be viewed at: https://vimeo.com/226170224

Continue Reading

Embodying education: performing environmental meanings, knowledges, and transformations

By José Castro-Sotomayor, Jeff Hoffmann, Melissa Parks, Maggie Siebert, Mariko Thomas and Tema Milstein

This essay presents an exploration of a wide spectrum of current ecocultural relations through the creative methodology and expression of performance. We present a script of a performance inspired by a seemingly simple prompt for a pedagogical free write exercise “When I say ‘nature,’ I mean…” The goal of the free write exercise is to illuminate and open up for questioning and transforming our cultural assumptions, embodied meanings, and social constructions associated with the idea of “nature.” The authors/performers reflect about the process of creation and their intimate struggles with environmental ideologies often hidden behind the veil of common sense, political posturings, or disciplined concealments. As an art form, performance allows engagement with imaginations that emerged as radical, thus insinuating the need for a more nuanced and free scholarship, as well as for embracing performance as liberating pedagogic activism.

Continue Reading

Cultivating Change: A Cross-Age Arts, Literacy, and Sustainability Project

By Joyce Kinkead, Andrea Melnick and Olivia Webb

This essay describes a project in which a 4th grade class joined forces with a university class to study and produce as theatre Paul Fleischman’s Seedfolks, an inspiring story of a diverse group of community residents who transform a vacant urban lot into a wonderful community garden. In addition to the arts component, the two teachers unexpectedly found an opportunity to encourage sustainability of education when their students embarked on a pen pal correspondence.

Continue Reading

Old Material…New Material

By Helen Turner

Many educators teach the topic of sustainability, but how many do so in a sustainable manner? From the requirement of textbooks, to paper for printed syllabi or assignments, higher education is a consumer of resources. The materials of design education, however, expand to include media like trace paper for ideation or foamcore for model making, as a means of communicating ideas. Yet, following presentations and grades, a majority of these physical materials enter the waste stream while digital versions populate online portfolios. Hence, design education provides a unique and transferable lens to explore an inquiry-based collection, documentation, exhibition and repurposing of discarded materials, to render new insights and re- imagine pedagogical practices, wherein learning and deliverables truly reflect the values and discourse of sustainability.

Continue Reading

Conceptions of Sustainability within the Redesigned K-12 Curriculum in British Columbia, Canada: Mapping a disputed terrain

By Gerald Fallon, Robert VanWynsberghe and Patrick Robertson

The purpose of this policy study is to provide to educators and curriculum writers a critical account of the diversity and contestability of the conceptions of sustainability embedded into the policies and processes related to the transformation of K-12 curriculum in British Columbia (B.C.), Canada. First, we examine the different conceptions of sustainability within the context of distinctive socio-cultural paradigms: the industrial, the existentialist, and the symbio-synergetic. Second, we address the following key questions: in what socio-cultural paradigm is the dominant conception of sustainability grounded in new K-12 curriculum policy in B.C. and in which ways does that paradigm question the dominant industrial notion of modernity and development?

Continue Reading

Sustainability and the Olympics: The case of the 2016 Rio Summer Games

By Sylvia Trendafilova, Jeffrey Graham and James Bemiller

The Olympic Games are the ultimate mega sporting event with not only hundreds of thousands of athletes, but also hundreds of thousands of spectators, volunteers, media, and security personnel. The Olympics concentrate a large number of people in a confined space (one city or even specific areas within the city) over a relatively small period of time (two weeks), thus introducing inevitable hardship to the natural environment. This case study focuses on the challenges Rio faced in preparation to stage and host the 2016 Summer Olympics Games, and at the same time provide an environment safe to all. More specifically, the case focuses on the water quality in Rio and the associated health risks for athletes competing in the open water events. This case study provides students with knowledge about the history of environmental sustainability in the Olympics and prepares them for a career in a global industry that is increasingly focusing on and implementing environmental initiatives.

Continue Reading

Environmental education in teacher education programs: Incorporation and use of professional guidelines

By Rebecca L. Franzen

Faced with everything from climate change to resource depletion, citizens must be environmentally literate. One path to literacy is through teacher education. Participants in this U.S.-based study completed a survey, indicating teaching methods and assessment strategies used to address the Guidelines for the Preparation and Professional Development of Environmental Educators themes. Although many indicated unfamiliarity with the Preparation Guidelines, the majority address them in their teaching. Fostering Learning, Environmental Literacy, and Planning and Implementing Environmental Education were commonly addressed, while Foundations of Environmental Education was not frequently addressed. Discussion, inquiry-based learning, and assigned readings were often used teaching methods, while lesson plans and reflections were common assessments. The results suggest that faculty members are implicitly including EE and that there are gaps in meeting the competencies in EE.

Continue Reading

University Students and Sustainability. Part 1: Attitudes, Perceptions, and Habits

By Kurt Rosentrater and Brianna R. Burke

Increased understanding amongst scientists and the general public about anthropogenic impacts in general, and climate change in particular, behooves us as educators to adjust our courses and curricula. “Sustainability” and “green” topics are increasingly being discussed and incorporated, but this should be done with deliberation. We undertook this study to understand attitudes, perceptions, and habits of the student body at Iowa State University, with a focus on environmental knowledge and behaviors. Overall, we found that, regardless of demographic, students appear to be interested in environmental topics, reducing their footprint, and improving the environment overall. But, they did not necessarily want to pay more, nor did they fully embrace personal responsibility.

Continue Reading

Bridging the boundaries of science and art for business students: Integrating botany and artistic perspectives to teach environmental literacy

By Vikki L. Rodgers and Danielle Krcmar

Engaging students not majoring in science, sustainability or environmental studies in learning environmental literacy and shifting their attitudes and behavior toward nature often requires a multi-perspective approach and presents unique challenges. We sought to: (1) pair artistic perspectives with botanical concepts to educate and interest our students in learning environmental literacy, (2) engage our students in careful observation and visualization of nature, and (3) increase the environmental sensitivity of our students by connecting botany with nature based art. To do this we designed a pre-class assignment, an in-class botanical art workshop, and a written reflection assignment that asked students to view, conceptualize, and create works of botanical art as a multi-perspectival process of engaging with relevant scientific processes and environmental concerns connected to botany. Here we provide a justification for the value of bridging science with art, detail our approach, describe student survey responses and thoughtful written reflections, and illustrate lessons learned and future plans.

Continue Reading

Essential learning for sustainability: Gifford Pinchot’s lessons for educating leaders today

By Lizzie Summerfield and Sam Wells

Some scholars of leadership for sustainability argue that more research needs to be done on the ‘who’ of leaders, the core drivers of the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of their decisions and actions. This paper looks at a leading US figure in sustainability, Gifford Pinchot, who led the establishment of the US Forest Service, and who devoted much of his career to conserving the natural world for the good of his fellow citizens. It describes the formation of the ‘who’ of Pinchot as an adult leader through a focus on his early learning environment in order to point to some essential and timeless principles for the education of leaders of sustainability.

Continue Reading

The re-indigenization of humanity to Mother Earth: A learning platform to cultivate social-ecological resilience and challenge the Anthropocene

By Iain MacKinnon, Lewis Williams and Arianna Waller

Human beings today are living in times of unprecedented social and ecological crisis, a crisis that is to a significant degree of human making. The impending arrival of the Anthropocene geological epoch gives this crisis a name. As academics with a sense of responsibility for our relationships with planetary kin, the awareness of unfolding crisis calls on us to reach a deeper understanding of assumptions about the world, and of modes of living that these assumptions permit, which have been a human contribution to crisis. Furthermore, the Anthropocene calls us to act upon our new understanding. Taking modern European imperialism as a key generative force in the development of Anthropocene, we provocatively develop the idea in this article that the life-ways and worldviews of Indigenous Peoples colonized by European imperialism – including, potentially, marginalized and suppressed life-ways and worldviews of Indigenous Europeans – may hold critical insights by which to negotiate the Anthropocene and to challenge and change habits of thought and action that have led us to its threshold.

In doing so we outline the rationale behind the Alliance for Intergenerational Resilience (AIR) whose objective is to build social-ecological resilience by connecting and supporting locally based projects for the innovative and renovative co-evolution of social and ecological systems. AIR aims to generate inter-cultural relationships between Indigenous communities and communities no longer considered indigenous to place in order to support more meaningful, life-giving social and ecological relationships for all people. In order to further describe AIR’s objectives and its aspirations, the article draws on the Alliance’s inaugural event, the Elders’ Voices Summit, four days of Indigenous-led sustainability education with more than 100 international participants, representing community, university, government, philanthropy and not-for-profit sectors. We conclude by casting our hopes forward to envisage future re-indigenization work that supports the connection and reconnection of human beings with the Earth and the places of the Earth to which we belong.

Continue Reading

Hope and a hike: Cultivating nature connection and hope and setting the stage for action through a women’s walking group

By Catherine Dyer

This article focuses on ‘Hope and a Hike’ a women’s walking group in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The group uses an online Meetup to bring women together for weekly one-hour hikes which include information about a local positive conservation initiative (the hope component). It combines exercise, health gains, and social opportunity, with knowledge, positive local conservation success stories and experience in forested areas. The goal is to awaken a connection to the natural environment with hope and a desire to care and take action for the environment. Participants are women, mostly ages 35-70. This case example includes how the group relates to research on: benefits of walking in nature, awe, women, hope, connection to nature, pro-environmental actions and relational activism. Details about hope topics and ideas for expanding the hikes could be used in informal education as well as in course development.

Continue Reading

Changing the climate of beliefs: A conceptual model of learning design elements to promote climate change literacy

By Katrina Leona Marzetta

Climate change is a difficult subject to teach because it requires complex scientific understandings and is connected to personal beliefs (Spence, Poortinga & Pidgeon, 2012). It is important to teach students the science of climate change and impact their personal beliefs to produce behavior that will mitigate climate change. In this study pre and post surveys focusing on climate change understanding, belief, and behavior were administered. Interviews were also conducted. The quantitative and qualitative data were conflicting, but through triangulated data analysis learning design elements promoting Climate Change Literacy in higher education were identified. A conceptual model was developed with the learning design elements to improve the teaching of Climate Change Literacy. Findings depicted three design elements that increase students’ Climate Change Literacy: 1) Decreasing students’ psychological distance from climate change, 2) Utilizing students’ sense of place, and 3) Student investigation of their own research questions. Increasing students’ Climate Change Literacy is the critical first step in making sustainable societal transformations required for mitigating climate change, our most pressing environmental issue that impacts all people and the natural environment (Spence, Poortinga, & Pidgeon, 2012).

Continue Reading

Breaking down barriers to university-community engagement: a Master’s student-led sustainable agriculture workshop for children in Costa Rica

By Olivia Sylvester, Monika Bianco, Janaya Greenwood and Tiyamike Mkanthama

This article describes a sustainable agriculture workshop designed and led by Master’s students to support university-community engagement in Costa Rica. Our project had three transformative goals: 1) to empower Master’s students as educators, 2) to share food security knowledge with community youth, and 3) to strengthen our university-community relationships for knowledge dissemination. For other scholars who wish to apply principles from our Master’s student-led workshop within their local context, we describe our recommendations as well as areas for improvement regarding our three goals. Despite our workshop successes, it was a volunteer project that competed with the academic workloads of the students and the professor. We suggest that community engagement form part of regular academic obligations and courses to increase its accessibility and to provide more opportunities for Master’s students to transition into educators and practitioners before entering their fields of work.

Continue Reading

Technical Education Resources for Sustainable Agriculture: The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook and The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables: A Review

By Clare Hintz

Two books dealing with sustainable agriculture are reviewed as resources for teaching: The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook and The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables. Both fill important gaps in the field.

Continue Reading